A 47-year-old Cambodian-American accused of sexually molesting 11 boys was sent to Takeo Provincial Court yesterday following his arrest during a raid at his home in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district last week.
Soth Bunthorn, chief of the Takeo Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection, said the suspect, whose name he couldn’t provide, faces charges of child sex abuse and exploitation.
Vando Khoem, of the NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which assisted in the police investigation, said a victim came forward, triggering the inquiry in mid-2016.
The boys, aged 10 to 15 at the time of the alleged abuse, endured sexual molestation from 2010 onward while the suspect, identified by the NGO as TSV, resided in a pagoda in Takeo’s Tram Kak district, Khoem said.
“Most of them were molested on multiple occasions,” he said.
Khoem said the suspect confessed to police that he served one month in jail in the US for molesting underage boys before returning to the Kingdom in 1997. He also confessed to abusing the 11 boys, who are now receiving psychological and social support, he said.
Iman Morooka, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, said one reason Cambodia is still regarded as a destination for sexual predators “could be that many pedophiles are operating in the country without fear of arrest”.
“UNICEF calls on the government to strengthen the capacity of the police to detect and prevent child abuse and for immigration to strengthen border procedures to deny access to people who are identified perpetrators,” she wrote in an email.
Additional reporting by Sen David